Home Schooling – Mom as Teacher
By Elaine Ernst Schneider
Mom as the teacher – a challenge, but not impossible. My biggest hurdles when I have taught my kids were my own limitations. In other words, I did not want my children to be weak in the same subject areas I had less training or lacked natural ability in. The latter is always a possibility because of genetics, of course. I’m not blessed in math – neither are they. But –
I said BUT because it is important – BUT that isn’t always a bad thing. Because I know my own cognitive deficiencies, I strive to find learning tools especially in those areas! I am actually a very good math teacher.
First consider what makes a good teacher. Some factors are whether you “click” with the child, can hold his or her attention, know the content yourself before you attempt to teach it, and will impart tools that will aid the child in retention of that content.
Learning tools fulfill two of those four. They keep the child’s attention because they offer a catchy, fun, and organized way to learn material that might even be uninviting to the child. And learning tools give the child a pattern for memorization or internalizing. Learning tools incorporate as many senses as possible into the learning process. Children see it (visual), say it – hear it (auditory), write it – march or sing to it (kinesthetic). Let them taste and smell concepts when possible. For example, if you want to teach the word “pungent,” find something pungent for the child to smell.
Hands-on is the teaching tool of today – the most successful curriculums are built on it. For example, put multiplication tables to rhythm. Make them into a chant: 2 X 2 is 4, I said, and 3 X 2 is 6! Then march around the room saying the multiplication facts to the rhythm of the march. If you have a Sousa march tune, play that as you march. Putting things to music always enhances memorization. With older students, use the computer to make study sheets, letting the child actually do the keyboarding. This utilizes hands-on kinesthetic and
visual areas of brain response. Then ask the student to read the study sheet out loud to involve auditory senses. Or make 3 X 5 cards with a vocabulary word on one side and the definition on the back. The temptation is to make the cards for your child to save time, but the learning process is stinted when you do that. Let the student make the cards. It not only involves more of his or her sensory processes but it teaches a valuable learning tool that can be used later on when the child studies “on his own,” in high school or college perhaps.
Make up mnemonic sayings or rhymes that give your child a way to organize material that is to be memorized. For instance, if the assignment is to learn the names Conrad, Mott, and Tenney for a history lesson, make up the saying “C-all M-e T-onight” which utilizes the first letter of each name. Practice the sayings that correspond to the questions and then practice remembering what each initial letter stands for.
Use praise as a reward. Praise the “close” answers and teach your child to congratulate himself as well. Children make take longer to grasp concepts in areas of study that are more difficult for them. You don’t want them to give up or develop a poor self-concept like saying, “I’m just no good in math.” A good game for “close” responses is called the Answer Game.
When you are working on question and answer drills, give a pat on the back with one hand for a close answer and with both hands for the absolutely correct answer. When I do this, I make it a point to have something in my hands – a book, pencil, or paper. That way I can make it a “big deal” to put down what I have in my hands and free them up for double-hand patting. The key is your attitude. Make the patting part of a jubilant atmosphere, emphasizing the child’s triumph one question at a time. Remember that concepts sometimes come slowly and you don’t want your child to bog down. Lastly, teach your child the one-hand, two-hand pat. Let him administer congratulations to himself! This builds self-confidence.
When using textbooks, sit down with your child and survey, formulate, answer and recite. (For a more detailed explanation of this teaching tool method, see my article “Help Your Child Study for Tests” This is a tried and true method for organizing your textbook study time, and, of course, you have an advantage when using this method because YOU are the teacher!
Try lots of different ways to entice your child’s interest in learning. Invent your own teaching tools! Remember that along with teaching subject matter, you are teaching your child to learn. Attitudes that are developed toward learning can be influential in how he or she approaches new situations for the rest of a lifetime.